Capello sends harsh message
London - Fabio Capello's decision to leave Theo
Walcott out of his final 23-man squad for the World Cup has sent a
clear message to England's stars as they head to South Africa.
Ruthless: Fabio Capello. (Gallo)
is the latest high-profile victim of Capello's ruthless determination
to stamp his authority on his teams and his absence should leave the
squad in no doubt that their manager won't tolerate underachievement in
The Arsenal winger was widely expected to feature in
Capello's plans for the World Cup in South Africa after playing a
significant role in the qualifying campaign.
He appeared to
underline his importance with a hat-trick in the vital 4-1 victory over
Croatia in September 2008, but injuries and a series of erractic
performances for Arsenal this season have changed Capello's thinking.
showed his pace remains a tremendous asset when he briefly flickered
into life in last week's friendly win over Mexico, yet his
decision-making is poor and his crossing well below the standard
required at the highest level.
He had been receiving lessons in
delivering the ball from David Beckham but in the end Capello decided
that the more experienced Shaun Wright-Phillips and Aaron Lennon would
provide better options on the right flank.
Four years ago Walcott
was selected by then England coach Sven Goran Eriksson for the finals
in Germany, even though the teenager had yet to make his Premier League
Walcott has since admitted he didn't deserve that call-up
but he felt certain he would make it this time and being disgarded by
Capello came as a big shock.
Yet it whouldn't have been so
surprising if he had remembered how easily Capello dispatched Michael
Owen into international exile despite the Manchester United striker's
superb goal-scoring record for his country.
Walcott said: "I am
very disappointed not to be included in the squad going out to South
Africa, but completely respect Mr Capello's decision.
"I would like to wish the team the best of luck and hope they have a really successful tournament."
Manchester City midfielder Gareth Barry declared fit after his struggle
to recover from an ankle injury, Walcott was the headline-making
omission as Capello trimmed his provisional 30-man squad by seven
The others to miss out were Sunderland striker Darren
Bent, Tottenham duo Tom Huddlestone and Michael Dawson, Everton
left-back Leighton Baines, West Ham midfielder Scott Parker and
Manchester City winger Adam Johnson.
Bent can feel slightly hard
done by after scoring 25 goals this season - far more than Emile Heskey
managed, but Capello believes the Aston Villa targetman is a better
foil for Wayne Rooney.
Baines hardly helped his cause with
nervous displays in England's last two friendlies and the revelation
that he would suffer home sickness in South Africa because he would be
away from his family for up to six weeks.
Capello kept faith with
Tottenham defender Ledley King despite his shaky performance against
Mexico and struggles with a chronic knee injury.
Jamie Carragher will also provide defensive cover, while Manchester
United midfielder Michael Carrick is an alternative to Barry if his
team-mate breaks down in training.
Joe Cole, Chelsea's skilful playmaker, will be Capello's wild-card.
had been unimpressed with Cole since he returned from a long-term knee
injury, but his form in brief appearances for the Blues over the last
month of the season were enough to persuade the Italian to restore him
to the squad.
John Terry has no doubts Capello will have England
finely-tuned by the time they kick off against the United States in
Rustenburg on June 12.
"The manager will have us ready, I'm
certain of that," Terry said. "The attention to detail he shows, even
after matches, stressing we need to work on new things, is great.
"He leaves no stone unturned. With a bit of luck and with everybody fit we've got as good a chance as anyone."
England's final 23-man squad:
Goalkeepers: David James (Portsmouth), Robert Green (West Ham), Joe Hart (Man City)
Defenders: Jamie Carragher (Liverpool), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Rio Ferdinand (Man Utd), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Ledley King (Tottenham), John Terry (Chelsea), Matthew Upson (West Ham), Stephen Warnock (Aston Villa)
Midfielders: Gareth Barry (Man City), Michael Carrick (Man Utd), Joe Cole (Chelsea), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Aaron Lennon (Tottenham), James Milner (Aston Villa), Shaun Wright-Phillips (Man City)
Forwards: Wayne Rooney (Man Utd), Emile Heskey (Aston Villa), Peter Crouch (Tottenham), Jermain Defoe (Tottenham)